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WNCN's Sanchez tries out as a firefighter

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DURHAM, N.C. -

WNCN anchor Phil Sanchez reports on what it's like to try out to be a firefighter.

Good news for fans of NBC's "Chicago Fire" – the show is coming back for another season.

On the heels of that news, I went to the Durham Fire Academy to see what it takes to be a firefighter.

I've covered dozens of fires over the years, I've watched firefighters go inside burning homes and buildings. I've reported from the scenes of massive fires where victims were saved and some were not. 

As one firefighter once told me, "You call what we do heroic - we call it work."

My day began with a tour of the obstacle course that I was about to go through.

"A lot of classes have gone through here," said assistant chief Jeffrey Bunnell, who is in charge of fire recruits in Durham.

He gave me a tour of the burnt structure and showed me the tubes, crawl spaces and stairs that I would have to overcome before making it to the 200-pound dummy I would then have to drag back through the obstacles and bring outside.

"Some of the obstacles that you're going to go through today come from real life scenarios where firefighters have died in the line of duty," Bunnell said.

Of course, I had to do it all with 70 pounds of equipment and gear on.

Once I suit up, it's go time.

I made it through the first obstacle, a makeshift window I had to crawl through.

From there, it was 20-foot long tube and ramp, then down the stairs and another crawl space riddled with wires that I had to use clippers to cut.

Then finally the dummy.

I grabbed him and brought him back through the wires and that's it _ I was done.

"You did real good in there - real good," Bunnell said.

On a scale from one to 10, I ask him, what score would I get?

"I'm going give you an eight," he said.

For example, he said I had "no problem" negotiating the obstacles.

I'll take it.

But the real job is dangerous work. In the United States last year, 83 firefighters died in the line of duty. Nine of those came in North Carolina.

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